Spotlight: Perfectly Acceptable Press

Perfectly Acceptable Press is a small Risograph print studio based in Chicago. Perfectly Acceptable publishes a series of artist books by cartoonists and illustrators and offers for-hire commission printing services for clients throughout North America.

 @perfectlyacceptable

me

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. My name is Matt Davis and I live here in Chicago. I’ve been running a Risograph print studio called Perfectly Acceptable for the last three years. I host a performative comics reading series called Zine Not Dead with my friend Brad Rohloff. I grew up on the East Coast and I am an only child.

How did Perfectly Acceptable begin? Perfectly Acceptable developed organically, so it’s hard to pinpoint a beginning. I got into Risograph printing in college after a student group I co-founded, the Oberlin Comics Collective, got an old Risograph. I fell in love with it for the speed and aesthetic, but also all the technical limitations – only certain paper sizes work, a limited palette of spot colors, things always going wrong, etc. I love finding solutions and thrive off of constraint. I moved to Chicago after graduation and bought a Risograph from a woman in Wisconsin three days later. I put myself online basically saying “have Riso, will print, don’t expect anything great,” which I guess was good enough because soon after I started getting emails from people all over the US asking for me to print their work. I got in the Risograph game at a critical time when there was a lot of demand for printers but not a lot of people doing it. About a year later, I was able to quit my job and start printing full-time. Somewhere in there I started publishing books as Perfectly Acceptable Press with spare resources from commission printing and discovered I like curating and designing books.

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Matt Davis’ studio shelf

What is it like living and working in Chicago? For art, you can’t beat Chicago. I mean, the weather totally sucks – there’s only about three months out of a year where I actually feel comfortable being outside – but the people here are so fantastic. There’s so much talent here but people are still completely approachable. When I first moved here I tried to make friends by emailing artists I admired and asking to see their studio or if they wanted to draw sometime – and more often than not it worked. I’m still friends with a lot of those people to this day. I’m not sure that would be possible in many other places. There are a lot of great community-based organizations and events in Chicago that I should mention — the big two events being Chicago Zine Fest and CAKE (Chicago Alternative Comics Expo). I rent studio space from a rad community print shop called Spudnik Press and just down the street is another cool zine gathering place, CHIPRC. Small press and comics are everywhere here and that’s a good thing.

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Hotel Rompo // Talya Modlin

How do you curate your shop? I just want to make nice books. I promise there’s a grand scheme to it but it’s hard to articulate… Like, if they were people, I would want my books to be approachable and well-spoken, but not like totally saccharine or condescending. I want my books to bring comfort to people while also expanding their minds. I end up working with a lot of artists who make comics but are either working with an expanded definition of comics or are doing narrative work through other media. Basically people who I think know how to string a story across pages without necessarily using panels or talk bubbles. I work with mostly LGBTQ artists or artists from outside of North America – these artists have the most important things to say and tend to be making the most exciting work because of that.

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Commission printing for the Center for Genomic Gastronomy

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just published a book called HELP YOURSELF by the Swedish artist Disa Wallander. I think it’s one of the best projects I’ve worked on. I have two titles coming up for the winter – a comic by Edie Fake that we’re debuting at LA Art Book Fair in February, and then, a little later, a fashion catalog by Will Laren.

If you were a drink what drink would you be? Milk.

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The Book of Secrets… // Daria Tessler

Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? When Trump won the election, I put out a call that Perfectly Acceptable would offer free printing services to anyone making work to directly protest Trump and/or the proposed or implied policies of the Trump administration. This call will stand for at least the next four years (at least), and that sort of printing is the thing I feel most strongly about.

How long have you lived in Chicago and what brought you there? I’ve been here for a little over three years now. I spent a winter in Chicago (I would later learn – a very mild one) while I was in college and totally fell in love with the city. Quimby’s totally blew me away. Overall, I was really impressed by how many people here cared about the things that I thought I was almost totally alone in caring about. When I graduated, it seemed like the obvious move for me if I were to continue to pursue art.

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HELP YOURSELF // Disa Wallander

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? In the woods away from the sounds of traffic with a dog.

What were you like in high school? Oh, God. In ninth grade, I had a phase where I refused to wear jeans and wore pretty much exclusively black dress pants. I had pretty bad acne, which was pretty formative and I’m sort of grateful for in a weird way, now. For the first half of high school, I never really did my homework and spent a lot of time developing websites. The second half I did my homework, but I also smoked a lot of weed and was sort of a classic incorrigible high schooler. I’m not sure I could give high school Matt a strong recommendation, but that’s what it was.

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Help Yourself // Anna Haifisch